The Trustees of Lingnan University [current Lingnan Foundation], was first incorporated in the State of New York in 1893 to support the development of a college in Canton (Guangzhou), China, which had begun to offer classes in 1888. This college later became Lingnan University.
After the change of government in China in 1949, the Arts and Sciences faculties of Lingnan were merged with Sun Yat-sen (Zhongshan) University. From 1954 to 1979, the Trustees conducted their work primarily in Hong Kong with several colleges that became the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and later, with the institution that is now Lingnan University, Hong Kong.
In 1980, the Trustees resumed their activities in Guangzhou, principally with Sun Yat-sen (Zhongshan) University on the former Lingnan campus and, since 1988, with Sun Yat-sen (Zhongshan’s) constituent, Lingnan (University) College.
The Foundation also supports institutions or organizations in the United States or elsewhere that reflect the Lingnan tradition or otherwise share the Foundation's objectives.